One of the hottest young prospects in baseball right now is Atlanta’s Jason Heyward. The 19-year old was a first round pick in 2007 and has wasted no time establishing himself as a premier outfielder with a smooth left handed stroke. His arrival in Atlanta could come as early as next year.
Atlanta’s young prodigy is already receiving high praise from across the baseball community. Dave Cameron ranked Heyward 39th in his annual major league trade value rankings, pretty high considering he is just two years removed from high school.
Heyward was recently promoted to Double-A and through 18 games is hitting .422 with 14 extra base hits and 11 walks. His combined OPS between Advanced-A and Double-A this season is a staggering .991.
Heyward projects as an elite hitter and although his power his still developing he had the frame (6’4 220) and ability to become a consistent home run threat. His 12 long balls this year already exceed his total (11 home runs) last season.
His plate discipline is highly advanced for a young player at his level. His career walk rate is 9.8 percent and this number has climbed to 11 percent this season. He has also cut his strikeout rate down considerably this year from 16.5 percent to 13.8. Heyward is able to get on base at a very high rate. His wOBA is Low-A last year was .393, in Advanced-A this year it was .401 and so far in Double-A it is .538 (not a typo).
He has also shown the ability to hit left handed pitching equally well, if not better, than right handers. His lifetime on-base percentage versus lefties is .448 and against righties it is .367. This adds even more value to his team.
Heyward’s defense is also pretty solid. He has played all three outfield spots but he is most effective in right field. According to the TotalZone metrics used by http://www.minorleaguesplits.com/ Heyward has saved an estimated 13 runs in right field which is worth at least one win in the standings.
Oh, did I mention that he also stole 15 bases in 18 tries last year. What can’t this kid do?